Jason Bourne

You can’t keep a good spy down – just ask James Bond. Attempting to beat that super-spy’s record is the Jason Bourne series which began with ‘The Bourne Identity’ in 2002. Based on Robert Ludlum’s book, the film met with great success and has seen it reach its fourth sequel in ‘Jason Bourne’. After sitting out the series with the last entry, Matt Damon returns as the mysterious agent eternally searching for his identity amidst a myriad of explosions and guns.

After several years of laying low from his pursuers, former rogue agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) resurfaces. With his friend Nicky (Julia Stiles) in tow, he faces a new set of challenges including a program devised by the CIA to re-capture him set up by shady CIA Director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). Events rapidly escalate with new threats to the world order ramping up the pressure on Bourne to escape his latest predicaments.

‘Jason Bourne’ sets out to re-connect the series with its fans after ‘The Bourne Legacy’s lacklustre showing. Whilst the previous sequel tried something new, it is Jason Bourne audiences want to see. They receive plenty of his stylised action as filmed with kinetic intensity by director Paul Greengrass. From the first frame ‘Jason Bourne’ never rests as the film and character run a speedy pace towards a typically fiery climax. Whilst the simplistic plot is missing some of the series’ impact, it is good seeing Damon return to a franchise he definitely owns.

Occasionally Greengrass’ frantic direction detracts from completely enjoying the film. This is especially true during the action sequences which are edited within an inch of their lives leaving little room for them to breathe. It’s difficult seeing what’s exactly happening even if the infamous ‘shaky-cam’ for which Greengrass is known is generally well utilised. Damon effortlessly slips into his role with the high calibre cast doing much with the thinly written script.

‘Jason Bourne’ is a decent entry in the franchise without being ‘great’. More depth in the screenplay and better editing in the action scenes would have made for a more satisfying experience. This won’t stop the producers from milking a lucrative cash-cow with Bourne sure to return in future instalments.

Rating out of 10: 7

Star Trek Beyond

Since 1966 the ‘Star Trek’ TV and movie series has garnered new generations of fans. All seem enthralled by the exploits of Captain Kirk, Spock and others as they travel the universe on their eternally bold mission where no man has gone before. ‘Star Trek Beyond’ celebrates the franchise’s 50th anniversary and is the 13th in the film series. This number proves lucky as the latest adventure of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew dazzles as much as previous instalments. No doubt even Trek’s creator Gene Rodenberry would marvel at how long his work has lasted as it zooms to collect more enthusiastic admirers.

Continuing their five year mission, the U.S.S. Enterprise team set forth on new horizons. Helmed by Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) with the help of Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest, the ship is nearly destroyed during a deadly skirmish. Stranded on a remote planet ruled by war-lord Krall (Idris Elba), the crew try to find ways to escape. Only by working together to defeat their latest adversary can the Enterprise team truly live up to their stellar reputations.

‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a celebration of what has made the series so popular. Whilst it has drifted away from being the intellectual sci-fi drama of its TV origins to become a block-busting movie event, the series still adheres to its character concepts. This is keenly felt in ‘Star Trek Beyond’ as it celebrates its golden milestone while moving the franchise forward. Pine and Quinto have grown into their roles, successfully giving their own spin on classic characters. This is the case for their co-stars who make the core Trek crew feel like a fully formed unit.

The plot might be standard Trek-fare but it’s no less exciting. Directed with eager zeal by Justin Lin, each sequence glides into the next with furious speed. As expected the CGI looks amazing with the action superbly staged. Neither takes away from the involving story or actors who combine to make this one of the better Trek film entries. Although some scenes may feel familiar to long-term fans, the occasional hints to the past shows the respect the current keepers of the flame have for what’s gone before.

‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a fast-paced adventure sure to please audiences. It’s a classic big-budget affair worth the ticket price. Whilst some of the original Trek actors may vanish from our lives, their contribution to the Trek brand ensures their legacy will always live long and prosper.

Rating out of 10: 8